CODeLLA Aims to Teach Latina Girls Another Vital Language: Coding


Multilingual people have better opportunities in the workforce, giving Latino children who are fluent in Spanish as well as English a leg up as they compete for future employment. But the language of dashes, brackets and equal signs — in other words, coding —is one of the best weapons in a young person’s educational arsenal.

One million STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math), field graduate jobs will be available in the U.S. by the year 2022, but the percentage of female computer science majors has gone down from 37 percent in 1984 to 18 percent in 2014. In Miami, the women of CODeLLA are working to reverse this trend.

“The majority of Latina girls ages nine to thirteen attending Title 1 schools in the United States do not have access to quality STEM learning or computer science.” said co-founder Josie Goytisolo, referring to schools where many of the students come from low-income families. “Learning to code ascertains our girls are fluent in one of the most widely used languages of today’s world. It’s a foundational literacy that’s a necessity,” said Goytisolo, who spent decades in broadcasting as a manager in both English and Spanish-language news.

Established in 2013, CODeLLa is an eight-week coding immersion program and tech entrepreneurship immersion program for Latina girls between the ages of 8 and 12. Aside from teaching the girls coding skills, the program aims to make the girls see a future in the fields of technology. The girls meet after school and they also have a summer immersion program.

Last fall, CODeLLA teamed up with the University of Miami Center for Computational Science to present the inaugural She Innovates Tech (SITe) conference and She Tech Miami (STeM) app competition.

The goal was to inspire the next generation of innovators by connecting them with female tech leaders, challenging them with interactive workshops and most importantly giving them examples of how diverse a STEM career path can be.

Continue onto NBC News to read the complete article.

Hollywood’s top lobbyists say diversity is good for business


Hollywood hasn’t always shown much interest in telling stories about Latino and Hispanic characters and communities. But Hispanic moviegoers are still some of the most loyal in the nation, according to the Motion Picture Association of America’s annual Theatrical Market Statistics Report, released on Wednesday.

Almost 18 percent of Americans are of Hispanic or Latino origin, but they make up 23 percent of frequent moviegoers, defined as people who buy a movie ticket at least once a month. African Americans and Asian Americans (as well as people of Middle Eastern and Native American descent) are slightly overrepresented among frequent moviegoers as well: African Americans are 12 percent of the population and 15 percent of frequent moviegoers, while Asian Americans and members of other ethnic groups are 8 percent of the population and 11 percent of frequent moviegoers. White Americans, by contrast, are underrepresented among frequent-moviegoers, even in a media environment where the characters we see on screen are overwhelmingly white: They are 62 percent of the population, but just 51 percent of frequent moviegoers.

All this, despite the fact that Latinos and Hispanics (as well as members of other racial and ethnic groups) continue to be underrepresented on-screen. In 2015, just 5.3 percent of characters in the top-grossing movies were Latino. Almost 4 percent of characters were Asian, and 4.9 percent were of Middle Eastern or Native American descent or were multiracial.

It’s true those numbers suggest that members of minority communities will continue to go to the movies even if they don’t see themselves represented on-screen. But they also suggest an opportunity for the studios that make movies and the theater networks that screen them to get already-loyal audiences to come back to the cinema even more frequently.

National Association of Theatre Owners president John Fithian said that diversity was good for his member companies’ bottom line. The Theatrical Market Statistics Report showed a bump in per-capita movie attendance in 2016 among African American and Asian American audiences; MPAA Chairman Chris Dodd suggested that the former was driven in part by movies such as Denzel Washington’s adaptation of August Wilson’s “Fences,” which brought in $57.5 million at the box office, and “Hidden Figures,” which has made $165.7 million.

“Diversity is a great thing for our business, diversity in the movies, diversity in people making the movies, diversity in people attending the movies,” Fithian said, pointing to the “Fast & Furious” franchise as a model for the global audience that movies can garner by embracing diversity. “It was gigantic in part because it was a fantastically fun franchise, but also because the cast of the movie reflected the population of the world.”

Continue onto the Washington Post to read the complete article.

Jillian Mercado: Latina Model Seeks To Bring Inclusivity to Fashion


By Rosario B. Diaz

The modeling and fashion industry has been notorious for showing consumers a distorted image of what it means to be “beautiful.” With unrealistic beauty standards that display stick-thin (and often photoshopped) images of women, the business has convinced an entire generation of young minds that the fashion industry is exclusive only to those who fit these standards. Fortunately, recent years have shown a backlash against these images, and there’s now a movement to dispel the myth that only one type of body can be displayed. Jillian Mercado is a part of that movement, and it all started when the young Latina, who also happened to have been born with muscular dystrophy, decided she wanted to not only work in the fashion industry, but to be up front and center.

At 28 years old, Jillian has modeled for the IMG/WME Worldwide modeling agency, has been contracted to work at several fashion events, and just earlier this year, starred in merchandise ads for Beyoncé’s Formation tour. But these things did not come easy for Jillian. As someone who had been accustomed to using her wheelchair since the age of three, nothing ever came easy for her. Still, she worked through it all—from enduring the cruel taunts of middle school bullies to seeking out a mentor who looked like her (and at the time, finding none). Jillian’s resilience was all thanks to the lessons she had been taught by her Dominican parents. Though they were concerned for how their oldest daughter would fare through life, they were ultimately determined to ensure that Jillian knew one important thing—that the only person who can stop you in your goals is yourself.

Jillian carried this lesson throughout her life, and it was likely what encouraged her, when she was starting, to try out for an open casting call for Diesel Jeans. In the audition, Diesel representatives asked her why she wanted to model for them, and she replied that she “wanted to change the world of modeling.”

Diesel took her up on that goal, and she was not only featured in her full glory, but the image of a model in a wheelchair spurred an inclusivity movement for Diesel Reboot, with the campaign slogan being “We Are Connected.” Now, when she is asked by others how she would like to be seen—as she is not only representing people with disabilities on the runway, but also Latinas—she simply answers, “A model…like every other model.”

The 50 Most Powerful Latinas in Corporate America


The Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA) announced on March 14th the 50 Most Powerful Latinas (MPL) in corporate America list through its media partner Fortune Magazine, and the MPL Summit hosted by its educational partner Columbia University which will take place on May 20th.

Founded in 1972, ALPFA’s purpose is to connect passionate Latino leaders for exponential impact. “We first collaborated with Fortune and their partner Great Place to Work on the 10 Best Workplaces for Latinos list, and we are proud to bring to Fortune’s readers this remarkable list of Latina business executives,” said ALPFA’s CEO Charles Garcia. He added, “ALPFA applied the same criteria that Fortune uses for its Most Powerful Women list: the size and importance of the woman’s business in the global economy, the health and direction of the business, the arc of the woman’s career and social and cultural influence.”

ALPFA’s list prioritizes women leading large public companies with significant operating roles, rather than C-Level staff roles. It includes two women operating global private firms, three entrepreneurs who scaled their businesses into the middle market, and three Latinas, who although recently retired, exercise leadership roles on Fortune 500 boards. The list includes Cuban-born Geisha Williams, CEO and President of PG&E Corp., who earlier this month became the first Latina to lead a Fortune 500 company. It also includes PwC partner Maria Moats who leads 1,600 PwC partners in the firm’s Audit practice in North America and Mexico; and Gabriela Franco Parcella, who oversees $340 billion in assets as the Chairman & CEO of Mellon Capital.

These women have significant global roles, such as PepsiCo’s Chief Supply Officer Grace Puma who manages $25 billion in global spend; Adriana Cisneros who leads a global media company that became Facebook’s first Reseller in the Americas, and distributes content to 100 countries in 12 languages; and Bank of America Vice Chairman Sonia Dula who last month closed on a transformational deal to bring mobile connectivity to more than 90% of Mexico’s population, a bold initiative of President Peña Nieto’s reform agenda. The full list can be accessed here – MPL2017.

The MPL Summit and a dinner celebration will take place on May 20th at Columbia University. The MPL Summit theme is “Leading with Purpose” and the agenda and instructions on how to apply to participate can be accessed at


ALPFA (Association of Latino Professionals For America) is the longest standing Latino organization with 80,000+ members assembled in 45 professional and more than 160 student chapters across America. Our ambition is to connect 1 million passionate Latino leaders for exponential impact.

See the complete list of the 50 most powerful Latinas of 2017 on Fortune.

Source: Businesswire

University of Texas Elects First Physically Disabled, Latina Student President


When Alejandrina Guzman and Micky Wolf sought the top two spots of the University of Texas at Austin’s student government, they ran under the motto “Let’s RALLY,” defining what they’d be about.

First there was the definition of the word, “to come together for common action.” But they defined the acronym as: “Represent All Longhorns Like You!”

They were successful and with the win, Guzman, a senior studying government and Mexican-American studies, became UT’s first Latina student government president, as well as the first person that she describes as “differently abled” rather than disabled to hold the job. Guzman and Wolf, a junior, had 54 percent of the vote, winning by a margin of 800 votes last Thursday.

Guzman told NBC News she plans on using her platform to shine light on issues facing underrepresented communities.

“Representation can be very lacking in a lot of these different spaces,” Guzman said. “Being Latina, being a woman, being differently abled, I think it’s a unique opportunity for me to bring different perspectives to the table and now be at the head of the table.”

According to her campaign site, Guzman decided to run for the position after realizing the importance of representation and advocacy of underserved communities on campus.

Read more about Alejandrina and her campaign on NBC News.

‘Latinas in Motion’ Founder Encourages Healthy Habits Through Running


On a June afternoon in late 2012, Elaine Gonzalez Johnson, frustrated by running alone, sent a text to every woman in her phone and launched a nationwide movement.

‘I’m going to run two-and-a-half miles on Saturday at 7 AM,’ it read. ‘Will you join me?’

A month earlier, Johnson — now a 30-year-old full-time program manager in the Philadelphia school district — had stood at the starting line of her first-ever race, Philadelphia’s Broad Street Run, which touts itself as the largest 10-mile race in the country. Despite being in a crowd of over 35,000 fellow runners, she felt alone. “I didn’t see anybody who looked like me,” Johnson said. “There was such a lack of Latinas at this particular race.”

Johnson’s initial impression was not far off from the truth: despite their status as the country’s largest racial or ethnic minority, at 17.6% of the nation’s total population, Hispanics make up only a small portion of runners nationwide. In 2016, only 6 percent of overall runners surveyed identified as Hispanic, according to RunningUSA, a not-for-profit organization launched in 1999 which tracks developments in the sport through annual surveys and reports. And for women runners, the figures are even bleaker: barely 5 percent of female runners surveyed by the organization in 2014 identified as Hispanic.

Within weeks after the Broad Street Run, Johnson decided to take matters into her own hands. In June, a few days after she texted all the women she knew, six women showed up to meet her for an early morning two-and-a-half mile run at Abraham Lincoln High School in northeast Philadelphia. The group began to grow every week. And by August of that year, a chapter had sprung up in New Jersey. Latinas in Motion was born.

Almost five years later, the group boasts 4,000 members in 17 chapters across 14 states and in Puerto Rico, where Johnson’s family hails from. And Johnson has become the face of the movement, appearing on the cover of Women’s Running magazine last June.

Continue onto NBC News to read more about Latinas in Motion.

5 Eye-Opening Moments From This Moving Doc About Four Chileans With Down Syndrome


The most important thing is that you guys are responsible for your own lives.” The line comes early in Maite Alberdi’s documentary Los niños (The Grown-Ups). It is directed at a group of students at a Chilean school for people with Down Syndrome. But Ana, Ricardo, Andrés, and Rita aren’t children. Now in their forties, they all still attend the school though now they work in the kitchen as part of the catering department. They spend their days baking treats and sweets.

They also attend a class for “Conscious Adults” where they’re learning what it will take for them to live fully independent lives. That is the dream for many of those attending Coocende. Alberdi’s documentary merely follows the day-to-day routine at the school where her subjects grapple with what it might mean to have greater autonomy over their lives. It’s a sweet and dignified look at a population we not only tend to think often as mere children but one we continue to infantilize even when they’re grown up enough to handle kitchen equipment, have a drink at the bar, and be involved in long-term relationships.

Los niños is an eye-opening film that is most endearing when it just puts the camera on its subjects and allows them to be the protagonists of their own stories. It helps that most of those around them, including the staff at Coocende and even their own family members remain blurred by Alberdi’s camera. We’ve singled out 5 moments that show how this sweet doc is broadening audiences’ idea of what it means to live with Down syndrome.

Continue onto Remezcla to read about the top 5 moments.

Latina Conferences: #WeAllGrow 2017 Unites Latina Entrepreneurs


Latinas are rapidly occupying a growing space in the digital world. They are entrepreneurs, content creators, bloggers, photographers, YouTubers, influencers. For the third year in a row, #WeAllGrow Summit, held in Long Beach, California, early this month gathered over 400 women who sought to either learn, teach, empower or simply connect with one another.

#WeAllGrow Summit was born in 2015, from entrepreneur Ana Flores’s vision of connecting Latinas with passion and enthusiasm for digital entrepreneurship. #WeAllGrow Summit 2017 harnessed the Energy of Sisterhood, which was the theme of the conference. The goal was to provide an intimate gathering with three days of networking and learning experiences that fostered personal, creative and entrepreneurial growth.

Neutrogena®, HOLA! USA and NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises were among the sponsors and digital partners behind this event that seeks to empower creative Latinas.

Keynote sessions by celebrities such as Jenicka and Chiquis Rivera, the daughters of musical icon, the late Jenni Rivera, who star in the reality TV series, The Riveras, inspired and informed the audience in their conversation onstage with YouTube personality Miriam Isa.

“We want to provide that platform and the resources to enable Latina digital creators and creative entrepreneurs to reach their dreams and be the role models for future generations,” said Ana Flores, the powerhouse Latina behind the summit, which she and her team pour an entire year into planning and building.

Among the highlights was the Jefas Keynote Lunch with digital powerhouses Cristy Marrero, editorial vice-president of HOLA! USA, Camila Alves, co-founder Yummy Spoonfuls; Elizabeth Gutierrez, actress and entrepreneur and Fernanda Romero, actress and cofounder Vida Parfum fragrance line.

“If your partner doesn’t support your vision, you’re with the wrong person,” Alves, also wife to Matthew McConaughey, said.

In another session, author and TV host Martín Llorens, introduced his forthcoming book with HarperCollins Español, “Con tu permiso, quiérete,” which will be released in July, 2017.

He said, “Compassion, forgiveness and love will open the divine and the princess warrior in you.”

Consumer Reports, a non-profit and non-partisan organization that works with and for consumers moderated a keynote panel on the benefits of using social media for social good.

There were also renowned beauty and style influencers such as Dulce Candy and Adriana Castro onstage.

The breakout sessions were divided into different tracks: Create, Lead, Snap, Monetize and Wellness, where attendees learned everything from how to create a media kit to how to find their life purpose.

Some of the breakout sessions included: Making It On YouTube By Doing What You Love, Embracing Your Opinions: How to Activate Storytelling for Social Good, Generating Income by Publishing E-books, and From Passion to Business: The Essential Business Plan.

Emmy-award winning Gaby Natale, president of AGANAR media, led a workshop on the topic of her book “El círculo virtuoso,” to be released in June, 2017. In the book she lays out different archetypes embodied by Latino celebrities she’s interviewed over the years in her TV show

Natale shared how this book deal with HarperCollins español was secured after a literary agent heard the story of one of her life-changing struggles which she told onstage the year before, during the Storyteller segment at #WeAllGrow 2016.

Flores said she was thrilled at the success of the event. “It’s always hard to describe what I feel after the summit has ended because it’s such a mix of emotions of my own, but also all those I absorb from the attendees,” she shared. ” I take in all their beautiful words, their passion and their excitement as they leave full of drive and motivation to make great things happen for themselves and their communities.”

Read the complete article on NBC News.

Meet Five Latinos Making a Mark in College Basketball


For many years, Latinos were few and far between in basketball. That began to change at the NBA level in the early 2000’s, and it didn’t take long for college basketball to follow suit. Today, Hispanic’s have fully entrenched themselves on the college hardwood, especially at the Division-I level. And now that it’s tournament time on the college schedule, here are the Latino players who have been making headlines this season.

Southern Illinois senior guard Mike Rodriguez

This Boston native didn’t take the traditional path to college stardom. The 22-year-old, whose family roots come from both Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, began his college career at Marshalltown Community College in Iowa before transferring to Southern Illinois. Last season – his first in Carbondale, Illinois – Rodriguez was named to the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) All-Newcomer Team. He scored in double figures in 15 of the 32 games he played in and ranked 10th in the MVC in assists per game (2.9).

This year the 5-foot-9-inch point guard leads the Salukis in scoring with 12.9 points per game, which puts him 12th in the conference. He also leads his squad in minutes per game (32.6), assists per game (4.0), and steals per game (1.4). As good as he is on the court, basketball wasn’t Rodriguez’s initial sport of choice.

“I started out playing baseball, I loved baseball. I pictured myself in the MLB (Major League Baseball) from ages 4 to 16. I had to give up one sport, so I dropped baseball. I couldn’t wait for the summer time anymore. My team would practice in the basketball gym during the winter so I used to stay after practice and I just fell in love with basketball,” Rodriguez tells NBC.

Rodriguez is in a unique position because the Missouri Valley Conference doesn’t produce many Latino athletes. It’s something that he doesn’t take for granted.

“It’s truly a blessing knowing that you’re one of a kind out there and that you represent several Spanish- speaking countries and to see how many kids from both the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico constantly hit me up on social media to ask me ‘how do you jump so high?’ or ‘How can I improve my game?’ It just is a real blessing how I can help affect Latin basketball,” he says.

Continue onto NBC News to read the complete article.

This Afro-Latina Is Raising Funds To Open The Bronx’s Only Bookstore


“The Bronx is no longer burning, except with a desire to read.”

Noëlle Santos wants the the Bronx to get lit, with literature.

The afro-boricua launched a crowdfunding campaign via Indiegogo last month in hopes of opening The Lit. Bar in her borough. The Bronx was left with no bookstores after the Barnes & Nobles at the Bay Plaza Shopping Center recently closed.

Santos envisions her business as both a bookstore and a wine bar, “a social hub for people to come together and talk about social issues,” she told PIX11 News. “That’s something amazon cannot provide.”

The way Santos sees it, The Lit. Bar is an opportunity to change perceptions about her community.

“Lit like literature, Lit like drunk. Lit with passion to kill stigmas… and prove, once again, that the Bronx keeps creating it,” Santos says in one part of her campaign video, above. “And we are worthy, that we are more than just sneaker stores and we support the arts, so I stand here today and ask you to open your hearts and help us show the world what many fail to see: that the Bronx is no longer burning, except with a desire to read.”

And the 30-year-old Human Resources professional and blogger says her bookstore will reflect the diversity of her neighborhood.

“When you come into a neighborhood like the South Bronx, where most of our population is Hispanic and African-American, you need your stores, your community centers and your organizations to reflect the people that actually live there,” she told The New York Times.

Continue onto the Huffington Post to read the complete article.

Where are California’s Latino doctors? New programs try to grow next generation


When Daisy Manzo was a little girl, she mastered the art of faking colds and stomachaches so she could be taken to the local clinic and see doctors at work. There, she ogled the medical professionals bringing comfort to the ill and injured, while dreaming of the day she’d wear a white coat of her own.

She had no way of knowing how much time, money and determination it would take to get there, she said. When the Modesto-born child of Mexican immigrants got into UC Davis on a scholarship, she was ecstatic. But once on campus, the classes were much harder than what she’d taken in high school and she felt like she was falling behind other pre-medical students, who had been shadowing doctors in clinics while she’d been working at the local Dollar Tree to support her family, she said.

“I felt like (the advisers) didn’t understand my struggles,” she said. “I was discouraged from pursuing a career in medicine because they didn’t see me as being up to par with my pre-med colleagues. … I felt like it was trial and error because I just didn’t know how it worked.”

Manzo faced the kinds of financial and social obstacles that have blocked other aspiring Latino professionals from entering the field and serving Spanish-speaking communities in California. As the state’s Latino population continues to expand and older Latino physicians move toward retirement, hospitals and medical schools are responding to the need by charging forward with plans to recruit the next generation of Spanish-speaking medical professionals.

Manzo, 24 and a first-year medical student at UC Davis, volunteers at a midtown Sacramento facility for Latino patients and wears her white coat proudly. She said she worries whether enough medical school students will step up to serve communities that often go without proper medical care because they can’t find medical professionals they understand or trust.

“I always see patients who resemble my own family. I see my grandmother in these patients, my mom, my brother, my sister,” she said. “At the end of the day they don’t have other places to go. … We need more places like this. We need more physicians willing to work with these populations.”

The midtown clinic, called Clínica Tepati, is staffed by a mix of people hoping to meet that need – volunteer undergraduates, medical students and supervising physicians. Since the launch of the Affordable Care Act, which gave thousands of previously uninsured Latino residents much-needed access to physicians, demand has spiked for the free checkups, counseling and minor medical procedures offered at the clinic, students said.

In California, 69 percent of Latino adults are overweight or obese, which puts them at additional risk for diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, stroke and some cancers, according to the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network. At the same time, the state’s Latino population enjoys health advantages such as the lowest rates of infant mortality among any ethnic group and the longest average lifespan – outcomes that experts attribute to strong family networks and other cultural factors.

Latino doctors have historically been underrepesented in the state’s physician workforce – a problem highlighted last fall in a report from the Latino Physicians of California. The statewide advocacy group pushes for better college preparatory programs for young Latino students, more financial assistance for medical school hopefuls and, ultimately, a healthier ratio of Latino physicians to Latino patients.

In California, just 6 percent of doctors identify as Latino, compared with almost 40 percent of all state residents. Latinos were underrepresented among doctors in every California county, according to a Sacramento Bee analysis of data from the California Medical Board. About 29 percent of Californians speak Spanish at home, but less than 20 percent of the state’s physicians speak the language, according to the Latino Physicians of California report.

Black physicians are also in short supply in most counties, although some counties have relatively few black residents.

White doctors and Asian doctors are overrepresented. Fifty-two percent of the state’s physicians are white, compared with about 38 percent of the state’s residents; 31 percent of doctors are Asian, compared with 15 percent of the state’s residents.

Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, director of UC Davis’ Center for Reducing Health Disparities who helped produce the Latino physicians report, said the problem will only get worse if urgent measures aren’t taken.

“These dire situations require thinking out of the box,” he said. “What is critically important from a health perspective is to provide health services that are comprehensive and that are adequate. That’s not happening with some population groups.”

Patients are more likely to follow doctor’s recommendations when they understand the language, but there are also more nuanced needs in the Latino population that only physicians from the same background are likely to understand, said David Acosta, associate vice chancellor of diversity and inclusion at UC Davis. For example, some Latino patients may be treating their own illnesses with alternative healing methods such as herbs and traditional foods that could interfere with certain prescriptions, but may be afraid to mention those beliefs and treatments to a white doctor.

“If a patient knew I was Latino and I spoke to them in their language, they may share with me something they may not share with someone who doesn’t understand the cultures and beliefs of the Latino population,” Acosta said. “Racial and ethnic minorities think of illness through a cultural narrative.”

Continue onto the Sacramento Bee to read the complete article.

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